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Tracing dietary protein in red-backed voles (Clethrionomys gapperi) using stable isotopes of nitrogen and carbon

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We examined the stable isotopes of nitrogen and carbon in a small mammal, the red-backed vole (Clethroinomys gapperi (Vigors, 1830)), to determine if isotope signatures reflect diet composition. Nitrogen- and carbon-isotope ratios in tissues from voles maintained on different protein levels in the laboratory were compared with wild-trapped voles. The isotopic fractionation of dietary nitrogen and carbon was also examined as food was digested in the stomach, incorporated into bone collagen, bioapatite, and hair, and excreted as feces. Nitrogen and carbon isotopes were fractionated differently depending on the isotopic composition and protein content of the diet. 15N and 13C values appear to be influenced by factors in addition to diet, such as macronutrients metabolized for respiration, metabolic rate, and periods of protein shortage.

L'examen des isotopes stables d'azote et de carbone chez un petit mammifère, le campagnol à dos roux de Gapper (Clethrionomys gapperi (Vigors, 1830)), a permis de vérifier si les signatures isotopiques reflètent bien le régime alimentaire. Nous avons comparé les rapports isotopiques d'azote et de carbone dans les tissus de campagnols nourris de concentrations diverses de protéines en laboratoire à ceux de campagnols piégés en nature. Nous avons aussi suivi la fractionation isotopique de l'azote et du carbone alimentaires à mesure que la nourriture est digérée dans l'estomac, incorporée au collagène des os, à la bioapatite et aux cheveux et excrétée dans les fèces. La fractionation de l'azote et du carbone se fait différemment en fonction de la composition isotopique et du contenu protéinique du régime. Les valeurs de 15N et de 13C semblent être affectées par des facteurs autres que le régime alimentaire, tels que les macronutriments métabolisés pour la respiration, le taux métabolique et les périodes de pénurie protéinique.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-05-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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